Do you prefer paper or digital books?
March 21, 2012
When I was attending Southwestern BaptistTheological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, shortly after the Civil War, one of my professors said something that has stayed with me all these years.
He said, “A person has his first intellectual birthday when he realizes that his mother is not the only cook.”
I interpret that axiom to mean that in order to grow we must be willing to embrace change and give serious consideration to ideas that run counter to those we hold dear.
It is a well-established principle that people tend to be most comfortable with ideas and practices they develop early in life. Change represents a challenge to cherished beliefs. It is easier to remain in one’s protective cocoon and leave innovation to those on the fringe.
The path of progress is littered with discarded values, VHS players and vinyl records.
So what does this have to do with the new world of indie publishing?
I have loved books my whole life. In our home, we had few, but those we did have were a storehouse of the collected wisdom of the ages. The King James Bible, a World Book Encyclopedia, Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, the Readers Digest, the complete works of William Shakespeare, thin volumes of the poems of Wordsworth, Shelley and Keats took up a couple of shelves in a small wooden bookcase. At the local library, I would sit in an over-stuffed chair in the basement and read Robert Heinlein and Jules Verne.
I loved the smell of those old books, the way they felt in my hands.
But, I have to admit that in recent years, I have made a transition, almost complete now. It is the transition to digital books. I own three Kindles, including a new Kindle Fire. Now when I get ready to read, I don’t search the shelves for paper books, I turn on my Kindle.
I like the ability to adjust the font, the convenience of being able to pack a Kindle in my briefcase and not worry with loading a half-dozen paper books in a suitcase. I like the ability to put a Word document on my ereader so I can review it and take notes.
Even two years ago, I was in the camp of those who said there was something unique about paper books, those who swore they would never go the digital route.
It is not so for me any longer.
My reading experience is as rich or richer than ever. I probably have read more books in the last year than in any twelve month period in my life. I have discovered new writers who have the audacity to put their works up for public scrutiny on the Kindle store. I have connected to many of these writers through social media and come to know something about them, to appreciate them as human beings who also happen to be wordsmiths.
The digital publishing revolution is not just about the switch from paper to Kindles. The emotional tie that binds many to paper presents a hurdle one must jump in order to enter the new world.
I think again about my professor. At least on this one issue, I have come to understand that my mother isn’t the only cook.
How about you? Do you prefer paper or digital books?